Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Mystery Of The Coarse Selectors

Here's a new experience. My boys Diggers With Gratitude release a limited EP of unreleased cuts by... somebody I've never heard of before. It's The Coarse Selectors EP, tracks recorded between 1988 and 1989 by Fresh Ski & Mo Rock. It's limited to 350 copies, and as you can see from the photo I took, it comes in a sticker cover with a press sheet and, if you ordered this direct from DWG, a glossy photo. And the first 75 copies, including mine, are signed. =) So the package and presentation is awesome, but... who are Fresh Ski and Mo Rock?

They're a London duo who dropped their first 12", "Talking Pays," on Tuff Groove Records in 1988... which explains why I don't know them. Growing up stateside, very little UK hip-hop made it over here besides "Good Groove" and The Wee Papa Girls (because Teddy Riley fuxed with 'em). And while that single was dope, with some nice, super hard beats... it's also a patchwork of familiar samples (at least the A-side is) we'd all heard before, so I'm not surprised it didn't reach our shores. Our loss.

Anyway, they didn't release anything else until 1991, when they dropped their final release, The Long Awaited Paroxysm EP on Conscious Music Records. And that was it from then until 2009, when DJ Dee Ville over at the bustthefacts blog posted an EP of their unreleased recordings. Yes, this was The Coarse Selections EP... songs they recorded after "Talking Pays" that never saw the light of day. Well, after that post, DWG got on the case to make sure this got a proper, vinyl release... and here we are.

Just the opening few seconds of the banging, hardcore intro was enough to convince me, "oh shit!" The production on this EP is amazing - it's even better than the stuff that did make it out. And Fresh Ski is nice on the mic, too, with an emphasis on contorting his flow to match the ill beats... something that seems a bit of a lost art nowadays. But it's the killer beats and samples that keep stealing your attention - it's hard to believe, for example, that had "Down To the AM" been released, it would've been in competition with "Steppin' To the AM."

In total, you've got the aforementioned intro and two other completely unheard tracks on side A. Then, on side B, you've got two Original Versions of songs that later wound up on their Paroxysm EP, "Incredible" and "Mind Positive." "Mind Positive" here is much harder and edgier than the Paroxysm version, which is totally smoothed out. It's hard not to miss the super nice horn sample used on the hook of the remake, but the high energy and killer cuts will definitely have you favoring the original. As for "Incredible," it's kind of a toss-up... in this case the Original is smoother, but both are nice. And they're also quite different from each other, so in the end, the best is to have both, which we now can.

Oh, and finally, we also get the instrumental versions for all four songs.

This is sold out from DWG direct, but it's still available at various vinyl shops online, like KingUnderground, JetSet and UGHH. You can listen to clips here. And if DWG wanna introduce me to anymore vintage 80's hip-hoppers I've never heard of, I'm all ears. 8)

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